1 Kings 13:11-25 (NRSV)
Disobeying the word of God
Now there lived an old prophet in Bethel. One of his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; the words also that he had spoken to the king, they told to their father. Their father said to them, "Which way did he go?" And his sons showed him the way that the man of God who came from Judah had gone. Then he said to his sons, "Saddle a donkey for me." So they saddled a donkey for him, and he mounted it. He went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak tree. He said to him, "Are you the man of God who came from Judah?" He answered, "I am." Then he said to him, "Come home with me and eat some food." But he said, "I cannot return with you, or go in with you; nor will I eat food or drink water with you in this place; for it was said to me by the word of the Lord: You shall not eat food or drink water there, or return by the way that you came." Then the other said to him, "I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord: Bring him back with you into your house so that he may eat food and drink water." But he was deceiving him. Then the man of God went back with him, and ate food and drank water in his house.
As they were sitting at the table, the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back; and he proclaimed to the man of God who came from Judah, "Thus says the Lord: Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord, and have not kept the commandment that the Lord your God commanded you, but have come back and have eaten food and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, 'Eat no food, and drink no water,' your body shall not come to your ancestral tomb." After the man of God had eaten food and had drunk, they saddled for him a donkey belonging to the prophet who had brought him back. Then as he went away, a lion met him on the road and killed him. His body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body. People passed by and saw the body thrown in the road, with the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the town where the old prophet lived.
Today’s scripture reading makes it very clear how God feels about willful disobedience! God does not like it!
In this case a prophet of God was instructed to deliver a message, but not get cozy with the people by eating or drinking with them after doing so. The prophet was seduced by a citizen of Bethel, invited to sup, and willfully disregarded God’s command. The consequences of his poor choices were dire when he was killed on the way home from his assignment!
Wow! What terrible bad news.
Now, whilst we may feel shocked by this story, we ought not to be because the Bible does say that “the wages of sin are death.”
Generally, our disobedience does not lead to immediate physical death (praise the Lord for God’s Amazing Grace)! But, disobedience certainly does lead to moral and spiritual decay, as well as often undesired consequences.
Now, let us keep in mind, like any good parent God does not forbid us to do a certain thing to destroy our fun; rather, it is God’s intention to keep us safe.
For example, I tell my children not to run in the street. I do this so that they will not inadvertently get hit by a car. I tell my son not to touch the oven. I do this so that he will not become burned. I tell my daughter not to get in cars with strangers. I do this so that she will not become kidnapped, raped, or killed.
As parents, we understand the principal that we create rules to protect our children. God is no different. God seeks to protect our bodies, minds, and spirits. That is why God says things like, “Do not worship anyone besides me. Do not commit adultery against your spouse. Do not steal things that do not belong to you…”
When God gives us a commandment, we are expected to follow it!
Having said that, aren’t you grateful for God’s Amazing Grace! Although God set forth the law with the expectation that it would be followed, God also set forth grace when God loved us so much that God gave Jesus to die on the cross to save us from our sin and gift us with eternal life!
This side of the cross we know that the Love of God and the Blood of Jesus cover the multitude of our sin! Thank God that the wages of sin are death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life! (Romans 6:23).”
Hallelujah! Whilst I try very hard to always obey the word of God, I am grateful that when I fall short of the mark, God’s Love and Grace are always ready to forgive me when I return to God with true repentance in my heart!
I have often said that you can’t out run, out sin, or outfox the love of God that has been revealed to us in Christ Jesus...
Now, ain’ta that good news?!
Will you seek God’s forgiveness today for sins known and unknown? If so, please pray with me:
Eternal God, you are holy and you want me to be holy too. I confess that I have sinned in word, thought, and deed against you. I have sinned by what I have done. I have sinned by what I have left undone. Please forgive me and fill me with the Holy Spirit so that I can share the good news that You love, gave, and save! I pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen!